Former Olympic Wrestler and MMA world champion Ben Askren authored his interesting journey, thus far, through his memoir, “Funky: My Defiant Path Through The World of Combat Sports,” available Tuesday via Amazon.
Askren covers his journey through combat sports from childhood wrestling, his dominant collegiate wrestling career to becoming a MMA champion in two different worldwide promotions (Bellator and ONE Championship), before embarking on UFC.
Askren chronicles those roller-coaster dealings with UFC president Dana White, which still presents one question he would like revealed, publicly or just personally.
Here is my audio interview with Ben Askren.
Askren, 38, starred in wrestling at the University of Missouri during his pursuit to making the U.S. Olympic team.
An accomplished grappler, he made the 2008 U.S. Olympic team. He was a national champion and Pan American champion in freestyle wrestling, a two–time NCAA Division I national champion (four–time finalist) and three–time Big 12 Conference champion (four–time finalist). He was the second wrestler to earn multiple Dan Hodge Trophies (the wrestling equivalent of the Heisman Trophy). He was also a world champion in submission wrestling.
Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and growing up in Hartland, Wisconsin, Askren loved sports, particularly baseball and football. His favorites were the Bash Brothers (Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire) of the Oakland A’s, Robin Yount of the Milwaukee Brewers and Bret Favre of the Green Bay Packers. He also embraced the greatness of The Greatest Muhammad Ali.
During his MMA training, he spent some time in South Florida with the award-winning American Top Team in Coconut Creek. The training was very good, but the hustle and bustle of South Florida was not for him. He is a laid-back Midwestern guy — farmland, quiet, reserve.
In the cage or Octagon, quite the opposite. He is unique in style, outspoken and funky, hence his nickname and book title.
Through his career, he crossed paths with Daniel Cormier, Henry Cejudo, Steve Mocco, King Mo, Jorge Masvidal and even C.M. Punk. When Punk left WWE and signed with UFC, Punk and Askren trained MMA at the same facility. Askren lent some advice and expertise to the MMA newcomer.
Askren fought to be a UFC champion, but his loss to Masvidal in record time stymied his title shot. A flying knee five seconds into the first round by Masvidal is the fastest knockout in UFC history and also ended Askren’s undefeated run.
Askren amassed a 19-0 mark, which included title wins and title defenses in Bellator and ONE Championship.
In his book, he quotes legendary pro wrestler Ric Flair.
“To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.”
Askren fought to be the man.
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